Marketing for Thought

Social celebrities take center stage in Target and H&R Block campaigns

Target and H&R Block are redefining the meaning of celebrity collaborations. Each of the brands have partnered with top Pinterest users and YouTube sensations in their most recent product developments and  marketing campaigns, capitalizing off of the popularity of social media and its ability to identify and interact with consumers.


Target is no stranger to product collaborations. From Missoni to Philip Lim, Target has partnered with several famous fashion designers to produce product lines that reflect the designer’s aesthetic and taste but sold at a more modest price.  Each of these collaborations were extremely successful, leading to Target’s website crashing and merchandise is certain locations being sold out within an hour. Then again, who wouldn’t love designer clothes, shoes and home goods at a good price?

This time, Target’s recent collaboration isn’t with a famous European designer, but design bloggers and Pinterests users with followings between 2 million and 13 million.

The chosen designers,  Joy Cho of Oh JoyJan Halverson of Poppytalk and Kate Arends of Wit + Delight have teamed up with Target to produce party goods. Target’s idea to work with well-known deisgn bloggers and Pinterest users is a stroke of genius. By teaming up with users with large followings, Target is aligning itself with an aesthetic that millions of women already love. 

H&R Block 

Who says taxes and music don’t go together? H&R Block is challenging the boring stigma of doing your taxes and marketing the celebratory feeling of getting a tax refund. With the help of agency 360i, H&R Block created a record label called Billion Back Records that uses 10 YouTube sensations including Pomplamoose and iJustine as brand ambassadors. Through original songs lyrics and social media, this tax preparation company hopes to attract young adults through the excitement of tax returns.

Through utilizing social media and partnerships with YouTube stars, H&R Block is positioning itself with a younger audience and becoming a more relatable brand. No one enjoys doing their taxes, especially young adults, but by focusing their marketing on the end result of tax returns, they are reminding them of the joy and satisfaction post process.

Why Social Celebs

Everyone loves a good star-studded performance. The public eats up movies like Valentines Day and He’s Just Not Int You because they feature 10+ highly recognizable actors. They love feeling like they can relate to celebrities and socialites because they use the same products or react to situations in a similar manner. But the public also loves when a product or service identifies with them personally, especially when they see average people like them collaborating with Target or making original music for H&R Block. It’s something that is familiar to us because we have seen them or heard of them through social media, but also because we’ve had the ability to interact with them.

As social media gains more traction, companies won’t have a choice but to incorporate its channels and its own celebrities into their marketing mix. Those who don’t choose to identify with their consumers or engage them online will not exist in years to come.

Inner Fashionista, Marketing for Thought

Perfect vs. Natural: The battle between Photoshop, fashion and millennials

From Photoshop scandals to trending exercises endorsing “thigh gaps” and “bikini bridges,” the media is no stranger to manipulating beauty.

Target recently fell into this Photoshop-gone-wrong category with an over-edited “thigh gap” on a bikini model. Along with the removal of the photo from their website, they issued a public apology for the editing but this didn’t halt bloggers or Tweeters from unloading their anger and disgust across the web.


Millennials’ addiction and constant accessibility to technology and social media is a double edged sword. This is the first time in decades where not only celebrities are voicing their disgust, but the public, their target audiences, also have a platform to preach their feelings and take a stance. They’ve taken to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, blogs, etc., backlashing over-edited magazine covers and advertisements that directly reflect what society should think beautiful is. At the same time, they are more prone to seeing these images. With every login to social media or every click browsing the internet, there is no escape. Images of models and celebrities are everywhere, and even if they know the pictures are thinned, cropped, tanned and chopped, it doesn’t stop anyone from taking a look at their own body and drawing differences. It is easy to say that so and so’s thighs on the cover of a magazine are larger in real life, but it is harder to stop yourself from criticizing your own after a mere glimpse of the picture.

Several brands have addressed these issues through promoting natural and inner beauty by ditching stick thin models and instead featuring “real” women in advertisements and marketing campaigns.

Aside from Dove’s famous Real Beauty campaign, the personal care mega-house has continued to redefine beauty through videos and workshops. Last April, Dove released a video documenting an experiment that exposed the way that woman look at themselves. In the video, a former forensic artist from the San Jose police department sketched two headshots of a group of women: one based solely on descriptions of themselves, the other based on descriptions they gave of each other. The first sketch was harsher and uglier, proving that they were hard on themselves. The second was truer and prettier, showing that sometimes the things they disliked about themselves were what others found most beautiful. This January, Dove released a similar video featuring selfies of young students and their mothers.

Each of these videos highlights a major marketing implication: the importance of relating to your consumer. The fashion and beauty industry is stereotypically superficial and capitalizes off of perfecting appearances. Sex appeal and perfect looks do sell, but differentiating your brand by relating to your customer’s insecurities has paid off for companies like Dove. When consumers buy a product today, they aren’t paying for just a tangible object. They are looking for relationships with their brands, not just to be “sold.” They follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. They are your friend and want to relate to you; the more alike you are to them, the more likely they will stick around. While I for one am not offended by the use of models in advertisements or campaigns, it is disturbing to me that there has been a need to edit photographs for people who were essentially hired based on their looks and weight.

Aerie is one of many brands steering clear of Photoshop-mishaps by promoting a more natural, real image. Their  “#AeirieREAL” campaign ditches all stick-thin, “perfect” models and solely features regular, “real” girls. By incorporating a plethora of body types, Aerie is reaching out to a variety of consumers. In reality, not every girl has the same shapes or proportions, so by showcasing their products on different types of models they are proving that anyone can look good and feel good in Aerie.



A standard of beauty is formed by the media and entertainment industry, but it doesn’t have to be. The more millenials that take a stand, the greater challenge brands face to meet our expectations. Who would want to buy a product where the even the model has to be edited to look good in it anyways?

Marketing for Thought

Attracting new markets online

The explosion of social media platforms has opened doors for brands and services to reach even more diverse, specific audiences.  With the majority of social media obsessors still between the ages of 16 and 24, companies have gone new lengths to appealing to a younger demographic.  But what works, and what doesn’t work?

Coca Cola “The AHH Effect” Campaign

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According to an article on Fast Company, Coca Cola recently purchased 61 domain names, all variations of “” with different numbers of h’s, in their most recent effort to attract a younger demographic.  Each webpage has interactive games, YouTube videos, and gifs that will remind teens that Coca Cola is the perfect refreshment.

The site’s content will be updated every two weeks based on hits.  If teens aren’t enjoying certain games or videos, they will be removed.  Ideas for content will also be contributed from other brands targeting the same age group including Vevo, as well as teens and young artists themselves, creating a community where people can share their “ahh experiences.”

There are no television ads for their latest campaign, but all content is designed for mobile application in “snackable” doses. “They can dip in, dip out, and move on,” Pio Schunker, senior vice president, integrated marketing communications, Coca Cola North America Group says, adding, “and if you look at the way teens consume tweets and posts and texts, that’s pretty much their behavior.”

While I agree that targeting teens through interactive social media platforms is key for reaching that demographic, I can’t see how teens, with so many different aps, social sites, and gaming sites available, will choose to go to or or to play or watch Coca Cola designed content. Why spend time on ah aps or webpages when can you search for specific content you want to watch or see directly on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter?

It is a creative length and an extremely interactive digital campaign, but at what point will people reach out to this site over their own social media obsessions? Maybe I fall too far outside their target demographic or am skeptical to games with brands plastered all over them, but what is going to make young kids choose this site over the original? It will be interesting to see what works over time.

Dodge Dart Online Car Registry

Wieden + Kennedy Portland, the same company who created the “AHH Effect” campaign above, invented an entirely new way to purchase new cars.  The Dodge Dart online registry works similar to a wedding registry, providing a platform where the potential car owner can personalize the car and then different people can sponsor parts of the car.  Using social media sites, you can pitch family and friends to sponsor parts of the car.  Users have 90 days to get the entire car sponsored.

There are currently 6,000 active accounts with over 500,000 needed parts, and only 1,330 parts have been fully funded.  While these numbers seem daunting, this market effort is not considered a failure.  According to Forbes, the marketing campaign has built a relationship with younger users who have spent the time to customize and familiarize themselves with the different parts and features of a Dart automobile.

The Chrysler Group recognized a problem: younger demographics can not afford a new car.  They are paying off college debts, trying to find a job, maybe they just graduated high school.  They are in the market for a car, but there is no way this target profile can afford a new car on their own.  This crowdfunding has given millennials the chance to petition for a new car, completely customized for their preference.

Only time will tell which campaign will be more successful and effective. What do you think?




This post is a part of a series of posts for Integrated Marketing Communications class that explores strategies of integrated marketing communications and recognizes strong and weak branding strategies today.